The No. 6 UCSB men’s volleyball team closed out its 2022 regular season with a 3-1 road win over No. 9 UC San Diego on Saturday night, 25-21, 17-25, 25-22, 25-14.
The Gauchos will head into next week’s Big West Tournament with a 17-8 overall, 5-4 Big West record. The Tritons end the year with a mark of 13-10 overall, 5-5 conference.
For the second straight night, sophomore outside hitter Dayne Chalmers tied for the team-high in kills, as he and Ryan Wilcox led the Gauchos with 13 each.
The Gauchos doubled the Tritons 12-6 in blocks, thanks in large part to middle blocker Donovan Todorov. The sophomore did what he’s done all season, pacing all players with eight blocks while posting seven kills.
Junior opposite Haotian Xia finished with nine kills and five blocks, both good for second-most on the team.
UCSD got out to a great start in the first set, taking a 7-3 lead and going up four once again at 13-9. From there, it was all Gauchos, as they stormed ahead with a 9-1 run that included multiple points from Xia, Todorov and Chalmers.
Xia led the way with four kills and two blocks. His kill ended the opening set 25-21 in favor of the visitors.
Once again in the second set, the Tritons opened strong. After the first point went UCSB’s way on a Todorov kill, the home side reeled off six straight to go up 6-1.
UCSD never trailed from there, taking its largest lead of eight on the final point, an ace by Kyle McCauley.
The key run in set three saw the Gauchos break out of a 3-3 tie by scoring seven of the next eight points. Chalmers was responsible for three kills and Wilcox capped the run to put UCSB up 10-4.
The Tritons fought their way back, tying it on multiple occasions and getting level for the last time at 20-20.
Then, Xia picked up a kill and joined Todorov and Wilcox for a block to put the Gauchos up two. Chalmers later killed the set on a setup from Patrick Paragas to put UCSB up 2-1.
After several close sets, the Gauchos showed their quality in game four, outhitting UCSD .320 to .036.
UCSB ended the set with a 5-1 block advantage and .417 to .226 hitting edge. Wilcox had five kills and Todorov had four blocks to lead the way.
Santa Barbara jumped out to a 17-8 lead and took its largest lead of the night 24-13 on a Xia kill before winning the match on a Triton service error.
The Gauchos will now look ahead to the Outrigger Big West Men’s Volleyball Championships which begins next Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center in Hawaii. UCSB will take the No. 3 seed into a First Round matchup against No. 6 CSUN next Thursday, April 21 at 10:00 p.m. PT.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.